North East Wales

Janet Commins: Man who admitted 1976 killing 'a scapegoat'

Stephen Hough Image copyright Andrew Price
Image caption Stephen Hough (r) is on trial for killing Janet Commins, but another man has already served a sentence for her manslaughter

A man who was jailed after admitting killing a schoolgirl in 1976 has told a court he was an innocent "scapegoat".

Noel Jones was 18 when he was arrested over the murder of 15-year-old Janet Commins in Flint.

He admitted manslaughter and served half of his 12-year sentence but has never challenged his conviction.

Stephen Hough, 58, is now on trial at Mold Crown Court accused of Janet's rape, sexual assault, murder and manslaughter but denies the charges.

On Thursday, the court heard DNA extracted from samples from the murder scene 40 years ago matched Mr Hough's DNA profile.

Jones, who is free after serving his sentence and now goes under a different name, told the court he did not sexually assault her and did not know her.

Again asked if he killed Janet, he replied: "No sir, I didn't."

Image copyright North Wales Police
Image caption Janet Commins' body was found on a school field by children playing hide and seek

The jury heard he was arrested as he came out of a pub and was "in hell - I didn't know what was happening to me".

He said he could barely read or write at the time and believed he was targeted as he was a Gypsy.

"I was just lost... I didn't know what was going on... everything was going so fast and they were just saying to me 'you done it, you done it, you done it'...it seemed like forever."

He said police were "bombarding" him with questions and he was "agreeing to whatever they wanted me to say".

He told the court the questioning continued "until they got what they wanted... I happened to fit the bill".

Jones said: "I was like a scapegoat. That's what it felt like."

A statement said to be made by Jones in 1976, in which he confessed to killing Janet, was read to the court.

Asked if any of it was true, he replied: "No sir, 100% not true."

He told the jury: "I did not know this person and I would not commit this crime. I had no reason to commit this crime."

"I had a girlfriend at the time and we were happy together," he added. "I had plenty of friends. I had no reason to do this."

Referring to Jones's trial where he was convicted of manslaughter, defence barrister Patrick Harrington QC asked him: "If you made a bogus confession, why not get the barrister to say so?"

Jones replied: "I don't know sir".

The trial continues.

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